Thursday, December 25, 2008

Purple Rain

Happy holidays you all...

Today was raining. The astute runner that I am, I checked radar pictures to figure out a good time to run and not get soaked. At 2:30PM, the sky cleared and I knew I had to take advantage of the gap. Alas, by the time I was ready the sky was overcast.

I took off without really fearing the impending rain. The pace was aerobic, easy on the legs.

Two days before I had had a wonderful run where I turned it into a fartlek. In that run, I pushed the effort on a couple of challenging hills; I accelerated a quarter, then a half (after a recovery slog)... I was feeling great, even after the half-mile pick-up wearing me down. I recovered with a 7:25 mile. Yeah, I know; that is very close to my GMP. The icing on the cake for this run was the last mile where I accelerated two blocks, jogged one (these blocks are small); I ended up with 7 pick ups and the final split was a 6:50. Needless to say I was very pleased with the result.

The following day was wisely slotted as a recovery run. But no matter how slow I tried running, the pace ended up averaging 8:15. Not fast, mind you, but much faster than the 8:45s I wanted.

Back to today. As I enter the Rio Hondo River, I feel a strong headwind (I guesstimate 11 mph) and my legs are feeling tired as if they were climbing a not-too-steep hill. Not to mention that I was drenched by this time. I stopped worrying about where my foot would land as the shoes were already soaked. I turn around and now I have a tailwind, but I take it easy. I am thoroughly enjoying the rain. I exit the man-made channel and hit local streets. The few stragglers look at me as if I am nuts. I am averaging 8:30s. One more mile... now half a mile left. I decide to do four accelerations. My knees push forward driving with a force I did not know they had. The muscles on my legs contort into shapes seen only in elite runners. I finish this mile in a not-too-shabby 7:39. Totally wet. And with a big goofy smile on my face. Life is good. Indeed.

[Today's mileage puts me at 1972. I should break 2000 by Monday. Yup, another 2K year for me.]

Last, but not least, may you all have a happy and prosperous new year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Soccer Players

What is it about former soccer players being such speedy runners? I'll tell you what "I" think is the reason: drills, drills, drills. Maybe Seebo or Tom can answer this question as they are both former soccer players and both can run 5Ks in the 16s. As for me, I tried out numerous times when I was a kid to make a team with no success; I just sucked at all sports, period. I was one of those kids who was picked either last or next-to-last.

This reminds me of an incident a few years back, when I felt I was in good aerobic shape; I was asked to play an informal game of soccer. And while I was able to run back and forth in our smaller than regulation playground, I endured soreness for the next three days... ouch.

The reason I bring up soccer is that yesterday while running in ovals on my local dirt track, a soccer game was going on. The players were teens. From time to time I would peek to check out a play. At one point, the ball exited in front of me and the kid who had kicked it out had it in his hands. One of the other team's players stretched his left arm for the ball. The kid with the ball tosses the ball away from the other boy. I was flabbergasted. No, I was pissed. I felt like cornering that insolent kid and lecturing him to boredom what it means to be sportsman-like. Alas, his coach did not seem to share my view as the kid continue to play sans being "educated."

Then I notice that this other kid, who had been playing basketball appears to be racing me. I did not notice this until he had stopped. But on the next quarter, his brother (about two years younger) is ready to race me, so I say: bring it on. I sprint as hard as I can and I manage a small lead on the boy, but I am hurting. I expected him to fade quickly as I was going all out and he is staying put. Damn, he is going to beat me. I taunt him by saying that he is not about to let this ol' guy beat him. Finally he stops (after about 150 meters) and I am so grateful as my lungs and legs are totally exhausted. I am heaving and puffing as I try to recover and the oldest boy wants to race me again, this time with me being aware. So I try to sprint again but he gets in front of me and I cannot pass him. I yell at him to move over as I want to pass him. Obviously I should have gone around him, but I was still hurting from the previous sprint and I needed the inside all to myself :-) He promptly cedes way and slows down. I continue the quarter at a crawl and meet the family again. This time it is a ~seven year-old who wants to challenge a man who could be his grandfather. He immediately gets in front of me. I pretend to go all out but stay just behind him. I start to exaggerate my breathing to let him know that I am "working." He stops and I go over to congratulate him on beating me :-)

The run ended up lasting for six miles and even though it averaged only 8:06 pace, it took me a couple of hours to get over that nauseous feeling you get when you overexert yourself. That sprint really did me in; I am just glad I did not get injured.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Spirit and Wounded Knee

I finally got to watch Spirit of the Marathon. As many of you know, it takes place in 2005 and culminates in the Chicago marathon. The docu-movie was quite enjoyable. It was heartbreaking to see Njenga finish third, but that's life in the elite's world.

Now, I happened to have been there as a participant and on my second viewing of the movie (not having been able to spot me the first time) I decided to freeze the screen a few seconds after the start of the race. Wham! I am there, right in the middle. Kind a cool [what a running nerd I am].

OAN, my left knee, the one that ached a couple of times during the NYCM, continues to bug me. The pain is rather dull but noticeable. So I decided to use a brand new pair of running shoes for yesterday's run. Lo and behold, no pain... at least in my knee. Alas, my left plantar was flaring up for the first couple of miles. The shoes I have been wearing (both pairs in the low 100-mile usage) seemed to be the reason. Or so I thought. Later on in the evening, while laying on my bed, the knee started aching; same kind of dull pain I had been feeling during my runs.

I began massaging the usual suspects for tender-spots (i.e. the ITB, Vastus medialis, the top of the gastrocnemius) and nothing discernible. Hmmm. Looking up at the symptoms of knee ailments narrowed it down to ITB Syndrome. But the core of the band seemed okay; until I followed it to where it connects to the knee. Yup; there it was: tender to pressure. I concluded that I have a mild case of ITBS. Oh well; I am glad it doesn't appear serious.

I will have to run easy for the next few weeks... it is what it is :-\


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Because I committed to pace the 3:30 runners on Superbowl Sunday on behalf of the "A Snail's Pace Club" it only made sense to become a member. And I did.

Sunday last, I joined five other members for a run and it was quite enjoyable. It's no wonder that running with others makes a huge difference.

Yesterday I had one of those days where I felt amazing pounding the asphalt. My legs had that magical spring and my lungs seemed to have an excess of oxygen. I went out easy and by the end of the first mile I knew I had to take advantage of the euphoria my legs and lungs were feeling. My stride lengthen naturally little by little and the run ended up being a progression run. Splits: 8:37, 7:57, 7:52, 7:40, 7:23, 7:19 and (drum roll please) 6:49. I had not run a final mile this fast during a training run in ages (I used to consistently do it in another life). The runner's high stayed with me well into the night. I just wish I felt like this during a race :-) Or have more of these runs at the very least...

Last but not least, my love for the theater can only be surpassed by traveling. About 10 days ago I went to the theater to see By the Waters of Babylon starring non-other than Demian Bichir of Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas and Weeds fame. I definitely enjoyed the story as well as Demian's acting. But Shannon Cochran was short of perfect. She played her role so well she almost made me cry. At the end, I stayed behind to steal Demian's John Hancock. I should note that I am not normally star struck; I guess in this instance is that I have liked Demian's acting since I first saw him in one of those cheesy Mexican soap-operas.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2009 Committments

I have committed to pace the 3:30 group, Surf City Marathon on Feb 1, 2009.

I have also signed up for the 113th running of the Boston Marathon on April 20, 2009. Six days later, I am supposed to toe the line at the Big Sur Marathon; I know, stupid is as stupid does.



Wednesday, November 05, 2008



Marathon “weekend” started well enough. I was to take the late red-eye to JFK on Thursday. When I checked on Wednesday my itinerary had changed. The flight I was on was gone; I was re-booked in the earlier red-eye. That meant that my “new” flight might be oversold. I should note that I have learned to dislike red-eyes and the chance of avoiding one during this critical race made it all the more appealing to “volunteer” to fly the following morning.

Sure enough, United was asking for volunteers. I jumped at the chance. I asked the clerk if he could upgrade me as well. He said to take the upgrade or an upcoming free flight. I went for the free flight. He re-booked me for the 8:20AM flight and I notice the seat-number is rather low. Business class maybe? I was also given meal and hotel vouchers. Not bad, huh?

I ended up sleeping a peaceful six hours or so. The hotel shuttle dropped me off an hour before the plane was to take off. I noticed that my ticket did not have a group number so I lined up with the vips. It was a business ticket after all!!! Man, oh man can I get used to flying this way. The flight went by so quick! Kevin Bacon was in my flight; yet another celebrity I have seen.

I “quickly” made my way to the Javits convention center to get my bib. The place was not crowded at all at that time, 6:30PM. I then went to my hotel by LGA. I know it was quite a way from the action but I have to watch my expenses.

I ended up sleeping 10 hours that night. After coffee I showered and went to Manhattan. Walked for a bit around times square then made my way to 72nd Street and CP West and kicked it for a while. I then realized I could go kick it by Tavern on the Green, the finish of the NYCM. As I am getting close to the already enacted finish banner I notice a running clock and it reads 3:18:XX… Was that an omen? I thought so. Things were looking up indeed. While kicking it, who runs by but the speedster Ryan Hall. Then Mary showed up to do a rehearsal of the awards ceremony. I was going to stay put but I was getting bored so I decided to visit Columbia U. That burn up some time and went back to Tavern on the Green to carbo load. I met some nice folks from Great Britain and learned that I can get a guaranteed entry to the London marathon if I can run a sub-3:15. This means I may have to travel to Tucson and make an attempt next month.

I finished rather quickly and I bid goodbye to my temporary friends. Hit the sack relatively early. I woke up at 5AM, having slept seven hours. My body and mind felt well rested. The weather was to be marathon perfect. Niiccceee!

I chose Royal blue for the top and light grey shorts. I had struggled the week before on which shoes to wear. Supernova classics have been good to me in marathons; but the ones I had broke in seemed too stiff, no energy-return whatsoever. The other shoes I considered were air-max nikes as they had what felt great energy return. I settled on the tried and true, supernovas.

It was really cold for this so-Cal boy. I am glad I took the ferry as this meant I only had to spend an hour or so in Staten Island. I was just about to take off my warm-ups when it was announced that wave one was closed. It did not take me too long to take a couple of puffs of albuterol and to drop my bag off at the UPS truck. It was 9:10AM. There were still 30 minutes to wait. The wait seemed long. Guys were peeing wherever they could, without remorse. It felt windy and colder than it was.


I felt good. I had a plan. The horizon looked bright.

The cannon sounds and we’re off, or rather we start moving. It would take me a couple of minutes to cross the start. I did not want to run the first mile too fast; or too slow. The wind was strong but I tucked in behind other runners. Mile one, 8:28. Time for the downhill, 7:08. Great. So far, so good. I enter Brooklyn and could not be more excited. Mile three had me already at MP, 7:24. Mile four is flat and somehow I slowed down a bit, 7:34. Mile five is an identical split, 7:34; the road is still flat [38:10]. The crowds are out in full force. Oh no. The 3:30s form a human wall and “threaten” to hold me back. I run on the median and sprint past them. How do you like me now? :-) Mile 6, 7:20. Mile seven, 7:27. Perfect, right where I want to be.

The merging of the three starts was approaching quickly. Mile 8 was a disappointment as I did not feel I had slowed down the effort, 7:48. This split did not bode well. I pick up the effort a bit, mile 9, 7:41. Damn. It is just not clicking. MP effort is there, not so the pace. I make one last push knowing full well that too much push can be disastrous in the latter stages of the race. Mile 10, 7:10. Huh? It sure did not feel “that” fast. Maybe a misplaced marker? [1:16:37] Well within goal.

I think it was in this mile where I went by the Hasidic neighborhood. A Hasidic Jew wants to cross the street but there are so many runners out there. He starts running diagonally, wisely avoiding runners. A couple of runners behind me found him to be funny as he was in his customary outfit and carrying a briefcase as well and could not stop laughing; I did not think it was funny at all; on the contrary, I thought it was very thoughtful of the man as I know how opposed to the marathon the Hasidic neighborhood is. Mile 11, 7:41. It was right here that I knew I was NOT going to meet my goal; I was going to keep on trying though. Mile 12, 7:28. Damn rolling hills had me second-guessing my eventual “failure.” Mile 13, 7:34. Halfway split, 1:39:11. Hmmm, I can still go sub-3:20 if I can achieve a no-worse-than 90 seconds positive split. Ah, but I the fade was waiting for me; I was just hoping it’d be a gentle fade.

In previous NYCMs I was done by the Pulaski Bridge. Not so this time. But it was not rosy as my left knee began to ache. Now that I think about it, I consciously slowed down the pace to prevent a full-blown injury. Mile 14, 7:37. Mile 15, 7:44 [1:53:42]. Yup, it was the knee. Thankfully the pain went away. The Queensboro Bridge was in my sights- a humbler of men and women. Mile 16, 7:51. If I can hold a 7:45 average for the next ten miles I’ll make my goal. Definitely doable.

Mile 17 aided by the downhill and the crowds on First Avenue is clocked in 7:29. A bit disappointing considering that it was downhill. Then the aguish began. It was harder to sustain the turnover needed for 7:30s. At mile 18 the knee pain came back, 7:41. By the mile 19 marker my knee felt fine, 7:52. I am fading steadily. Right after this marker I see the Reservoir Dogs Running club and Elyssa ready to snap a photograph. I start yelling at her: where is my cookie, where is my cookie? She was too focused on capturing a teammate of hers and did not hear me even though I almost ran her over. :-)

Time to cross into the Bronx. A runner behind me slips. A friend of his quickly goes to help him get up. Mile 20, 8:09 [2:32:42]. Time to kiss my goal goodbye; time to steal a decent time from the race that owns me; time to rise to the occasion and keep those mile splits as close to eight as possible. I cross the gentlest Bridge of them all, mile 21, 8:11. I am now back in Manhattan. A few quick turns and I can see the empire state building. The crowds have not stopped being supportive. Mile 22, 8:10. I guess I had been favoring my left leg as my right piriformis started to stiffen up. It’s all guts from here. My legs are done. Finito. I start using my arms; they are now doing most of the work. Mile 23, 8:03. The crowds create a funnel and my tired mind and body make me feel annoyed at them; so selfish of me. I toss my gloves. Mile 24, 8:16, ouch. The pace is supposed to feel easy but it is taking enormous amounts of energy. I turn into Central Park. 2.2 miles to go. Piriformis is still quite stiff. I am in deep concentration; I barely notice the crowds. Mile 25, 8:01. Time to exit the park and hit CP South. I actually feel as if I am racing. I pass dozens of fading runners. I reach Columbus Circle in pain but knowing that the end is near. Mile 26 shows that I really was spent, 7:43. I make an effort to break 3:25 on the clock and the last segment split is 1:32 [3:22:38].

I cross the finish line really tired but knowing that I gave it my best shot on a windy day. To be fair, I drafted off other runners for the first 16 miles. Then I braved the cross winds. But really, the wind was not a factor in my not meeting my goal. It was the knee. Fortunately, I am feeling fine today.

I am pleased with the outcome in spite of not meeting my sub-3:20 goal. It was an 18-minute course best after all.

While watching the online taping of the race, I can be seen walking visibly fatigued while Miss America 2008 was being interviewed.

Oh---and on Monday, while having lunch at a bench in CP, I saw Howard Stern jogging with his trainer. I should keep tabs of ALL the celebrities I have seen.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading… if not, thank you for stopping by.

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind. (Leonardo da Vinci)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It’s funny. This Sunday past, as I started my planned eight at MP, my breathing was labored, even though I started running at just under 8 mpm pace. You see, I ran around the rosebowl; it’s marked every quarter of a mile. The first quarter was a disappointing 1:58, and I got ready to cut the workout short as I thought I was getting exercise induced asthma. I continued the same effort and I missed the one mile marker. I did get a 1.25-mile split: 9:29, meaning that taking the 1:58 out, I had ran the uphill mile (~2%) in 7:31, or MP. Cool. I went on to complete the loop in 7:18 pace, and the eight miles in 7:19 pace. The effort was a bit harder than I would have liked but it was 80˚F after all (with low humidity). I was pleased but the workout left me totally spent. No matter. My legs felt strong and I felt confident I could break 3:20 at the NYCM.

Then came today. I had three measly miles at MP. Easy right? Right. I warmed up for 2.5 miles and I felt fine (8:30, 8:02, 4:00) with the exception of the two accelerations that had me gasping for air. Damn. I fear I will not have an easy time doing what should be an easy workout. The first MP mile comes in at exactly 7:30, and I don’t feel too bad. Half a mile later I turn back (3:47). Hmm, I need to pick it up slightly to get back to MP. The second mile split reads 7:32. Well within the acceptable margin of error. The next quarter would break my heart in two as I was really struggling to breathe, 1:55. I gave up right then and there. I slowed down to a slog, 2:20 [4:15]. Then I seemed to recover and the next quarter was a more adequate 2:06 [6:21]. It was here that I commanded my legs and arms to go all out on the next quarter, hoping to run a 1:20 and rescue a “lost” mile. I gave it my all; I suspect my form was nonexistent, flailing really. Final split was 7:50. WHAT? I can only run a 90 second quarter? Not only that, my chest was hurting, my breathing was rapid and I had to walk for a few steps. I almost walked the 2.5 miles home. Luckily I convinced my fragile legs to continue at a slog, 9 mpm pace. The positive outcome out of this workout is that I definitely suffer from EIA. At least I have an answer to my less than spectacular workouts. Oh well. Hey, now I can say Paula and I share the same medical condition.

Regardless, I have a race this Sunday and I still intend on meeting my goal. If I do not get an EIS episode during the marathon, I feel confident I can cross the finish line with a big goofy smile.

The plan is rather simple: go out easy and achieve MP by the fifth mile, 38:30. I hope to gain some time in the next five-mile segment, 1:15:30. And chip away a few more seconds in the third five-miler, 1:52:45. The fourth segment will be the critical one, and I expect to do it in 38:00, 2:30:45. The last five-miler should slow me down a bit, 38:30, 3:09:15. If I meet my forecasted splits up to this point, I should be able to run the last 1.2875 mile in less than 10 minutes. We'll see how it goes.

Should you feel like following my anguish, err race, my bib number is 8305. If you add all the digits, you get 16, or 4 squared, my “lucky” number.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Book Review & Sundry

A Race Like No Other
by Liz Robbins

One of the several blogs I follow is the most excellent Pigtails Flying and in one recent entry, she offered this book to whoever answered a question correctly. I did. And I am glad I did.

I have mentioned many times the love-hate relationship I have with the New York City Marathon, and it was rather refreshing to read about the personal stories of some of the entrants: your everyday joe-six-pack and hockey-mom (TM by Lying-Palin).

The reader gains access to the elites from behind the scenes. I learned that Ramala is smart (or dumb) enough to coach himself and how difficult it can be to train in crime-ridden Johannesburg.

Ramala was by far the one elite I identified the most. Paula is Paula; she is expected to win; and she did (in 2004 and 2007). Wami was courageous to race a 'thon at her level just six weeks after winning Berlin. And of course there is Lel who apparently has the most devastating kick among the elites.

The author also explores the lives of those that are affected by the marathon: the residents, the merchants, the volunteers, the race directors, the politicians and many others.

All in all a good read. The book will make the previous NYCM-participant reminisce about the race; and it will make the runner who has yet to pound the streets of NY the first Sunday in November to
yearn the day he does it.

My Last Entry...

had me wondering what the hay was wrong with me. After two bad runs, I laced my shoes for an easy 10-miler (Thursday, October 9). I start at a moderate effort and my stride is choppy, my legs feel weak. Damn. This would make the third day in a row that would find me struggling, cutting a run short. I ran for only five miles; my chest felt heavy; I also felt a bit disoriented. I knew then there was something not right. Being an MD (Google University, thank you very much), I decided my airways were partially blocked. I have access to Qbar and took a poof that night.

The next morning I wake up feeling anxious. I wonder if the medication will do the trick. I start my run and my stride is fluid and long. The effort is relaxed. Just after 1.5 miles I choose to do on-and-offs, quarter miles. I won't bore you with the splits, but I will note that the 4.5 miles of on-and-off were completed @ 7:11 pace. Nice. The medication worked; or was it the psychosomatic effect? The eight miles I end up running average 7:28 (without stopping), woo hoo!!!

Long Long-Run

The plan is to run the first three easy and then run 10-13 miles at MP (7:30), with the remaining miles easy. The course is pretty fast with insignificant climbs. I have support. The weather is mild but it is expected to get in the low 80s. The first mile is run in 7:48, and I am a bit worried because I feel the heavyness in my chest. I have not taken any more poofs of Qbar. I should have. Next mile is within the acceptable range, 7:53. The third comes down a bit, 7:46 [23:27]. Time to pick it up. I lengthen my stride. Surprisingly, it feels fluid. Great. Mile four, 7:21. Ooops, a bit on the fast side. I try to lessen the effort; it does not work. Mile five, 7:22. WTF?

I must have really ease the effort as the next split was a bit dissapointing, 7:37. I concentrate on the effort, I try to quicken the stride rate. Mile 6, 7:30. Hmm, I seem to be working a bit harder than I would like, not much mind you. Mile 7, 7:29; I was hoping to see a 7:25. Oh well. Mile 8, 7:31. Jeez. Now I imagine the 3:20s are in front of me. And they are four runners deep. It will be hard to break through that human wall. I will have to make my move when they go through the next aid station. I use up more energy but I do not want to be holed up, 7:18 [1:15:35=7:33 pace]. I am back on MP; mile 11, 7:27. The next mile, for some strange reason, finds me feeling really, really good. Can I keep this pace for 26.2 in NY? You betcha! Mile 12, 7:23. Wait a minute bucko! Mile 13, 7:33.

Two more miles and I will start running easy; I am beginning to feel tired. Mile 14, 7:20. One more mile at MP; the heat is beginning to wear me down. Thank goodness it's only a training run. Mile 15, 7:28 [1:52:47].

I dream of being able to complete the last 11 miles and change at 8:00 flat. Mile 16, 8:12. Hmm, I don't think so buddy. Mile 17, 8:14. Definitely not. I am running easy; it feels like a jog. The 3:20s pass me and I let them go. Now I have to go number one. I step off the course to relieve myself. I must have lost at least 30 secs. Mile 18, 8:55. I just keep the nice easy pace as all I want to do is "run" up to the 20-mile marker. Mile 19, 8:23. It's getting harder to keep this pace. Mile 20, 8:22 [2:34:53].

Great now I can begin the walking breaks as I want to save myself for my date with NY. I walk for 90 seconds and then I "jog". I grab a 20oz water bottle and I carry it for a while. I feel really thirsty even though I have drank gatorade and water at most of the support stations. I start walking once again (not in the original plan). Mile 21, 11:23, ouch. I want to drink more as I still feel thirsty but my stomach feels full. Mile 22 finds me "recovered" as I did not need to take a walking break, 8:20. Better. Another walking break, another jog. Mile 23, 9:08. Damn, it seems like I may have a hard time with the last 5K and change.

I decide to start cutting the walking breaks by 10 seconds. Mile 24, 8:40 [3:12:24]. Much better. My foggy brain tries to do the math and it's hard. Me figures I need to average 8 mpm to come under 3:30. I don't think so. Sub 3:35 will be fine thank you!

The next walking break takes "only" 70 seconds. Mile 25, 8:33. I hit the 25.2 and the one mile to go "sign." I go for it; I try to pretend it's the last mile of the NYCM. Mile 26, 8:08. The 385 yards are covered in 1:29; not too bad considering I was pretty tired. The last mile with the only significant hill in the course (from 25.2 to 26.2) was clocked in 7:25!!!

To say that I am pleased with the outcome is an understatement. I ran 12 miles at 7:26, which combined with the first three average-out to 7:31... and the last mile at 7:25 makes 16 miles at MP!!! Three more weeks and I'll find out if the monkey left the building.

Huge THANKS go to Arcane who made this training run possible.

The end.

Keep on running y'all!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


running is not as simple as putting one foot in front of the other... repeat as fast as the schedule prescribes. On Tuesday I was to run 10 miles with eight of those at MP. I start the first mile at a brisk 7:53. I feel a bit taxed but I blame it on "it" being the first mile. I am confident I will get to pace on the next mile. And so I did, 7:28. My lungs seem to be working a bit too hard for the pace. I would struggle on the next mile but manged to run it in 7:30. Alas, my body hit a wall; it shut down. I turn around instead of continuing to the five-mile turn-around point. I want to stop and walk. My upper body feels tired; it feels weak. I feel sorry for myself. I shuffle my way for the next three miles. At the end, I am dumbfounded. I don't know what happened. Had it been marathon day, I would have crashed and probably would not finish.

I am glad it happened during a training run.

My brilliant mind suggested I made up the missing six miles at MP the following day. The weather is cooler, 67F. It's a good opportunity to find out if it was the heat on Tuesday (although I had already discarded that idea as I have run faster times in similar conditions without bonking). I warm up for a mile. The MP portion will begin with the second mile. I run it on target, and I feel much better than the previous day. My breathing is more relaxed, not so my arms. I turn around at the four-mile point, and I have ran three miles at MP, but I am feeling tired. Not good. By the end of the fourth MP mile I "know" I can only do one more at this pace. Soon after this I have to stop altogether as I am gumption-less. What is up with me? Did I just go through exercised-induced asthma? Are my allergies really working my immune system to the point of exhaustion? Will I have to adjust my NYCM goal to a more realistic time?

Too many questions. Not enough answers. Or at least answers that satisfy my ego.

This Sunday I am running the full marathon distance as a training run. I wanted to run 10-13 miles at MP. I am hoping my lungs will show up.

Good luck to anyone racing this weekend, particularly those doing Chi-COW-go.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Half-Mary and Where I am.

I was looking at this half as more than just a training run; I was looking at it as the affirmation I need to take the monkey off my back come November. That would mean I would have to finish in a time no slower than 1:33:10, or 7:07 pace. You see, I have made it a goal to cross the finish line in sub-3:20, and a 1:33:10 half would predict a 3:16:30. Yes, I am leaving some room for a positive split.

When I signed up for this race, I was only thinking I wanted to see where I was six-weeks out. I did not know how many runners would turn out, but I certainly did not expect to see only 79, several who chose to start a half-hour early as they were walking. Actually, only about 60 runners toed the line with me. I looked around to see if I could spot the really fast folks and I could only make out one with a Navy singlet (he would go on to win it in 1:18).

There was this other guy who had asked if the course was flat. He was slim, and had a long sleeve. He had what I mistook for cross-trainers for they were all black. I did not think he would be fast as I questioned his choice of top and shoes.

The three of us formed a small pack that would dissolve quickly. I am running third and before I can settle in, a woman passes me. I say: go get them. No response. Not a minute later I get passed by another runner, this time a guy.

They slowly widen the gap. He passes her. I wonder if long-sleeve guy, now running in second place, will last; if he is for real; mefigures that if he is, he will last past three miles at that position; he is.

I won't bother with the splits only to mention that the mile-markers were misplaced so they will not offer a window into my even pacing. By three miles I can no longer see long-sleeve guy and the third place guy is only 20 secs ahead of me. I keet the same gap up until eight, when he speeds up a bit and I slow down a bit.

The course is as flat as a course can be. The cool ocean breeze is refreshing. The temp was 58F at the start and 65F at the end. Almost too good to be true. It was up to my old legs to do the rest.

My breathing is controlled. My form feels smooth and fluid. I have not felt like this in a race in a long time. Will it last for the entire 13.1?

He's going the distance.
He's going for speed.

I am about four minutes ahead of the number six runner. I don't think he can make up that much time in the next 5K. My watch reads 1:08:40. Damn. There is a chance that I can break 1:30. My legs are beginning to feel stiff. My form no longer feels fluid; it feels awkward. Number three guy (4th OA) has a minute on me now. No way will I catch him.

The miles are getting longer, if you know what I mean. I keep glancing at my watch. Did I push the pace too much? I did not think I could run 7mpm pace, much less sub 1:30. I dig as much as I can, but I am inevitably slowing. It's hard to know how badly I am slowing as I can't trust the markers. My watch reads 1:28:XX and we still have what appears to be more than 500 meters. I concentrate on my form and try to relax the shoulders.

The right hip-flexor, the one that has been given me so much trouble the last year only ached for miles 2-5; it also seemed to affect the right piriformis. Overall, I ran sans major discomfort.

I make the last turn and my legs start turning over quicker. I thought they were done. It wasn't much of a kick but it felt like it :-) I cross the finish line in 1:30:12 (6:53 pace) in fifth place OA and second in my AG.

Where did this come from? I think it came from everything going well in a race. From the cooler weather, to the flat course, to better trained legs. Interestingly enough, the 50 miles I ran last week (including this race) averaged 7:32... essentially my goal MP.

After the race I got to talk to long-sleeve guy (Dan). And boy was the guy for real. He ran a flat 5K not too long ago in 16:43 (six weeks ago), and is training for guess what race? NYCM! He is looking to run sub 2:55. His shoes ended up being all-black asics trainers. And his final time was 1:22, even with a detour -- as he missed a turn that must have cost him two minutes.

41 days and counting.

Keep running y'all!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Marathon Du Medoc

To call this a race is a mistake; at least for those of us who chose to slog it rather than race it as there were some really fast folks who race it well. It is really a marathon inside a party. And what a party it is. If you ever get the chance of doing it, you will not regret it; I guarantee it.

On to the race. The already stated goal of a sub-5-hour finish was half in jest as I did not think it would take me that long to complete the distance. And I did complete it in less than that, but let me tell you: it was not easy. The course itself was a bit more difficult than I expected as it contains several rolling hills, most notably leading up to the Chateaus. The over 7000 runners and the narrow roads made it all that more difficult to get a rhythm. But I did not really care. I was there to have fun. And fun I did have; lots of it.

I lined up about half-way and it was a minor mistake as I found myself practically walking for almost the whole first K. No matter I said to myself. I will pick it up to 9mpm pace as I also want to get some training benefit, for at least 30K or so. And I did pick it up. Methinks that I was running 8-8:30 pace when I was "running."

The culprits for my brief stops were the 23 wine stations. You see the organizers have the support from all these Chateaus who willing give away their wine to any runner who wants it. And they don't really mind how much wine you consume at their expense. My guess is that the wine itself is of the Chateaus' lowest quality, albeit still tasty.

As soon as I saw one of these stations I had two servings, not realizing its future cumulative effect. I was also spending more energy than the pace I was doing as I was dodging participants left and right. Finally, around the 7K marker I have some "breathing" room where I don't have to zig-zag. My splits get progressively faster, even with the wine stops. Ah but it was not as rosy as it should have been. I started feeling dizzy by the 17K marker and I knew I was close to being drunk. If I continued as I was doing until then I would not finish. I had to change my original strategy. I started drinking more water and just taking a couple sips at the wine-serving Chateaus. It helped as I felt back to normal 5K later. Alas, my mind was not okay as I started walking short portions. I continued the gallo-walking for the rest of the party, err I mean run, with the exception of the last two+ Ks.

For most of 30K I was frog-leaping position with this guy who had a Sumo-wrestler costume, and I just could not let him beat me. Finally, the weight and the overheating got to him right after 30K. I would not see him again.

At around 35K, there was this wall (see pic) whose bricks were made of wooden wine crates. Nice touch :-). It right around this point where I was expecting the oysters and the ham and the steak. I would have to wait until the 38K for the ham, the 39K for the oysters (where I had two chased by what else but white wine) and just before the 40K marker I had three cubes of medium rare beef; again, chased by wine, this time red. Boy was it good!

I was really glad I was about to complete my 39th marathon as I was really, really tired. Even when I was taking my time. I reached the 41K, running mind you (or at least it felt like running), and a volunteer hands me ice cream. Nice.

I try to pick it up for the last K and change. I spread my arms mimicking a plane. I complete the "best" 26.2 miles of my life in a pedestrian 4:24:16. But who's keeping score; not me.

When I crossed the finish, I was handed a nice duffel bag, a bottle of bordeaux and a poncho. And of course, a finisher's medal.

My only complain is that I probably will not do it again. But one never knows what awaits in one's life :-)

For a nice pictorial check this link. This is where I borrowed the pictures I used. It is worth visiting it as the pictures really tell the story.

Now to resume my training for the NYCM.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I am Old, Fat and Slow

I don't particularly like the Pitz-Douglas program as it has not improved my fitness as rapidly as the FIRST program did. Maybe it's my old body's fault. We'll see as I will switch to the more demanding FIRST workouts. Ironically, I was never able to hit the prescribed times for the FIRST repeats in the two cycles I followed in the past, and always ended up lowering the target times. P-D do not introduce repeats until well into their training cycle.

The benefits of repeats (VO2Max - done at 3-5K pace) are well documented. I wanted to remind myself why I was to subject my body to such punishment. I decided to read Noakes. In his book, Noakes claims that one can only gain 10-15% improvement from repeats (done right). He goes on to say that if your average Joe wants to improve much more than that (other than the usual gains from increasing one's mileage) is to have better running economy; IOW, drills, drills and more drills.

One positive aspect of this training cycle is that my tempo runs have steadily improved. Last week I managed six miles at 7:01 pace. If I can get them to 6:50 mpm, I will be in good shape to meet my goal come November.

Alas, I have been plagued with injuries here and there. Nothing significant.... yet. Knock on wood. The most nagging injury right now is liopsoas tendinitis; I am hoping the flexors will hold up until after the NYCM.

Speaking of which, NYCM 2008 will be the last marathon I race. Training for a 'thon is just too hard on my aching body. I will still run 'thons, but at a more relaxed pace. I may concentrate on shorter distances. Who knows? I feel I am in running limbo.

On another somewhat related note, I too thought that Wanjiru and the lead pack would fall apart before the 30K mark. Boy was I proven wrong. Even though the guy had a 90+ second positive split, he still kicked some major arse. And he's listed as being only 5'4".

Had Ryan kept up to his apparent plan of running his-own-race, I believe he'd probably have won bronze. He was quoted as saying: "Mentally, it's tough to convince yourself that it's possible for those guys to come back."

And how about Kenisa Bekele? Again he impressed the heck out me with his last lap in 54 seconds in the 5K... I am sure he could have ran it faster as it was pretty obvious he slowed down after he built up a significant lead. He ran a 52-second last lap in the 10K in Athens.

Last, but not least, I fly to France next week. I intend on tasting each and every wine offered at the 23 "aid" stations throughout the Marathon Du Medoc. Vive la France!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

NYC Nike Half-Mary

My last post was a six-word prediction to follow up on Flying Pigtails
request. Being that I tend to follow trends (as I have seen these kind of 'requests' posted several times) I continue the trend with my race report in a 'concise' six-word sentence: It is definitely not the shoes!

Last year, Haile ran the course record wearing the same shoes I wore this past Sunday. He ran a sub-one-hour time. Because I had the same pair of shoes, I figure at the very least I could run my current fitness. Having ran a four-mile tempo run in just under 28 minutes the Wednesday prior suggested I could run "a" half in 7:11 pace. Alas, I knew the weather was going to be less than ideal so I adjusted it to 1:35 total time; I was confident, I thought it was doable.

Four weeks before the race had me running a mere 4.5 miles. The following week I ran a whooping 3.5 miles (sarcasm intended). Then I suddenly ramped up the mileage and ran 54 miles. And 54 miles the week before the half-mary. Two weeks of 54-miles back-toback. In fact, I was to run 5 recovery miles on Saturday, but I decided to not run them at all as I had only slept one hour on the red-eye on my way to the big apple on Friday night.

On Saturday night I slept a not-too-shabby 6.5 hours, as I woke up at 5:30 AM local time (2:30 to my circadian rhythm). I showered, had a banana to prevent cramps and was on my way to Central Park. I made it there with just 20 minutes to spare. On my way to my corral I spotted Uptown Girl who was chatting away with a couple of her teammates. I stood there for a few seconds not knowing whether to say hello or just let her be. I decided to call out her name and introduced myself. I felt so foolish afterward for not introducing myself by my Christian name, but such is life. I also felt awkward since she was obviously enjoying the conversation with her teammates, so I made it rather short.

I moved right along and placed my self in the 1000s corral. I look to my left and who do I see? The speedster Chelle, who was talking to a friend. I though of walking over to introduce myself but stayed put; after all she seemed to be enjoying her conversation. It is worth mentioning that she is a sub-1:25 half-marathoner and I call myself a sub-1:30 halfer. Originally, my goal was to finish NOT more than five minutes behind Chelle. We happened to be lined-up between the 1:30 and the 1:37 pacers.

The race starts and less than half-a-mile later the 1:37s pass me with so much ease it was ridiculous. At this point I knew it was not going to be a good race. I tried to push the pace but my legs were just not cooperating. My breathing was fine; in fact it felt too easy; it would only get labored at the hills, particularly the Harlem hills. At the one-mile marker I lost sight of Chelle and her friend. I plod on feeling sorry for myself as I just could not pick up the pace. I kept telling myself that it was just too crowded; but that was just silly, I did not have any legs.

I actually felt I gave the race a good effort and tried several times to lengthen my stride to no avail. At four miles I sighted Chelle and her friend once again and gave chase only to lose them once more half a mile before we exited Central Park. I had been averaging just under 7:30s for the Central Park miles and was hoping to drop them to 7:10s once we got into the flatlands. I did get a minor boost when we went onto 7th Avenue but it was short-lived as I felt 'lost' once we passed times square. At ten miles I was still in sub-7:30 pace, but soon thereafter I felt so tired, my legs felt made of lead and wished I could keep a sub-eight minute pace for the rest of the 'race.'

As it turns out I only lost 30 seconds in the next 5-k as I concentrated on my breathing and my shuffling gait. Right around the 11-mile mark, I spotted Chelle and her friend once again and tried to catch up to them, but my legs where not there. I guess I left them in La-La Land. I crossed the finish line in 1:38:32, 7:31 pace, feeling so tired I skipped the five miler cool-down I had planned as I was supposed to run 18 for that day.

As I was 'recovering,' I see Chelle jogging and called out her name. We chatted for a few minutes and I headed to the subway station nearest me. I was in my hotel by 9:30.

While in New York, I ran four days: 13.1 on Sunday (7:31 pace), 6+ on Monday (9+ pace), 10 on Tuesday (7:43 pace- all in Central park, with five sub 7:25), and 7.5 on Wednesday (~8:10s). All I can hope is that come November 2, I can run close to the pace I ran this past Sunday as that is the one monkey I still have on my back: five NYCMs and NOT one under 3:40.

Have a great day you all.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chihuahua Bites the Soap

It was three weeks ago on a Thursday night (June 26). I was to take the red eye to Mexico City. The prospects for running in Mexico were not good and thus my desire to get in one more run before my departure.

Not even half a mile into the run and these two midget dogs (Chihuahuas) start chasing me and barking at will. Normally I would not give my back to a single dog, but these were Chihuahuas for crying aloud. One of them manages to get really close to me, but I think nothing of it; they will just get tired and leave me to my running. Boy was I wrong. He sinks his incisors into my left calf and pain shoots thought my nervous system immediately. I turn around and start chasing them while they keep barking at me. They don't come back and I continue my run. The bite was significant enough that my calf bled and pain accompanied me for at least a quarter of a mile before the endorphins took over.

I ended up running eight miles without any more incidents. The following 14 days would have me pound the pavement only once for 4.5 miles. The question was not whether I lost fitness with such low volume, but how much.

Last week, on Monday to be precise, I came down with food poisoning (FP). It was probably the worst FP I have ever got. I was bedridden for a whole day. On Tuesday I felt fine with the exception of feeling hung-over (without the benefit of having been drunk). Wednesday came and foolishly I had a rather big meal that had me losing fluids a couple of hours later. You see, I was ignorant to the fact that one is supposed to eat light after getting FP. After taking yet another imodium, I felt fine on Thursday. Alas, I had another large meal on Friday, and again back to losing fluids.

I wake up soon after 5AM on Saturday as my left calf was turning into a bar of soap; man was that painful... and I consider myself to have a high tolerance for pain. I massage it and walk around for a bit. I head back to bed. A few minutes later it is my RIGHT calf that decides to turn itself into another bar of soap ARGH! One is bad enough...

Obviously, a week of losing fluids and electrolytes left me in bad shape.

This Sunday the Pitz-Douglas (how come when referring to this program Douglas is never mentioned?) called for 15 miles... and that was my intention. But as soon as I hit three miles I knew it was not to be, so I decided to cut it to 12 and run three more at night. It was wise. I even had to take a shade brake as I was really close to heat exhaustion just after 10; I almost walked the remaining 1.75 or so miles.

Where am I right now, as far as running fitness? I feel I am about 7:40 MP, which would forecast a 1:35 half on the 26th. And that my friends is my goal, give or take a couple of minutes (more likely give as it's supposed to be in the low 70s). I am also counting on dropping 15 seconds from my current MP at the end of this cycle. That is all... for now. :-)

Carry on,


Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's the Humidity Stupid!

Today I wanted to push the pace in 90F degree weather... It went better than I expected... 8:14, 7:58, 7:53, 7:41 (31:46), 7:30, 7:36, 7:45*, 7:24 (30:15). Interesting how yesterday's run, while cooler felt harder; my guess is that the humidity was the culprit.

Yesterday's run started with me feeling really sluggish, then the humidity/heat got to me (or maybe it was GERD as I felt heaviness in my chest)... managed to push it for the last mile. 75F, 63% humidity. I averaged 8:31 pace for seven miles.

Today's humidity was only 37%.

Some tidbits
  • On Tuesday I had an interview for Structural Engineering Associate... did not go too well as I have not done structural calculations in eons. I still have hope I will get picked though.
  • Next week I leave for Mexico for two weeks; I am hoping I will be able to run while there.
  • My next race is the Nike NYC Half... since I am not in racing shape, all I am hoping is for a good time... AND maybe run in the 1:32s... or better :-) It will be up to the weather gods.
  • Good luck to Bridget on Saturday.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

To an Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields were glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

A.E Housman

Monday, June 09, 2008

One More Time

I have owned Pfitzinger-Douglas' Advanced Marathoning for several years but had not read it, just skimmed through it. Now that I have read it, I will give its 18-week schedule (70 miles or less) a try.

When I was training for CIM, I used the FIRST program and it worked for me. I really liked the flexibility of the schedule as I could switch days or move workouts forward or backward and fill the other days with easy runs or x-training. The problem is that the quality runs are really tough and take a bit too much from me.

Sooo... right now I am concentrating in building up volume. Take today as an example. I tried running the eight miles without looking at my watch for feedback. I did peek at the turn arund point (33:18) and was mildly disappointed at the slowish split. I tried really hard maintaining the same effort as in the out section but I may have subconsciously picked up the effort without being aware as the second half; and I had, as a result, a more gratifying split, 31:16 (7:49 pace) - with the last mile run in 7:34. One thing I did like about this run was that I thoroughly enjoyed it; suffice it to say that I will try more of these runs where I will not look at my watch and run by feel.

Happy running you all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Moo City Marathon

I was to run with Andres for the duration of the race. Or so was the plan. We started right next to the Capitol with just over a 1000 runners making the full marathon field. No-one fighting for position. There was plenty of room for everyone. Andres looks at the 3:50 sign and likes the 8:48 pace, as his 3:30 goal has wisely been thrown out the window due to lack of training; his longest run was 10 miles. "I" think he can run 3:40. We are in between the 3:40 and the 3:50 groups.

The horn is blown and I take off at what feels like an easy stroll. Andres lags behind a few feet. I slow down so that he can catch up to me. He still lags. I have to stop and wait for him to catch up to me. First mile in 8:25. The 3:40s are just in front of us.

The next couple of miles are run in an average of 8:20 and now Andres seems to have settled on a nice pace. I am enjoying what would turn out to be a very scenic route. Right after six miles, Andres starts picking up the pace and I am the one lagging now. We are getting closer to the 3:40s and I have to push the effort to keep up with Andres. We pass them right after mile 7. He looks strong and I tell him that we're running sub-8:10s and he says that he's feeling good. We pass by his brother's house (right after mile 10) and we're offered brats but Andres just plods along.

A challenging hill right before the UW-Madison Campus humbles me, and a couple of female runners pass me. I would re-pass them on the way down. Now I am the one feeling good. Strangely enough, my legs felt pretty tired at the beginning but they feel okay now. I clock a couple of sub-8 miles and Andres is hanging on. We are running on a well-packed dirt trail now and I continue to pass runners.

We cross the halfway mark in 1:48:01. Negative splits should be a slam dunk. The thought of dropping out (as I did in Boston) hunts me for a few minutes, but once I reach mile 14, I know that the worst is now behind me. Andres drops back a bit. I continue the same effort; I don't want to slow down. I try to stay with a relay runner but he drops me fairly easily. I am still feeling good and passing a few runners here and there.

At about mile 17, there was this longish hill that slowed my tempo. I did get back on track on the downhill. We enter the arboretum area. Man this course has way too many turns :-( I skip the GU station as it does not agree with me. I have had two cliffshot gels and I will have my third and last one right after 18. The sporadic crowds are quite supportive. Some call out my name. Some hesitate and think better of it. One spectator even cheers me on in Spanish. Wonderful spectators.

At 21 I hit the wall. Not the wall that stops you point blank, but the wall that whispers that it is okay to walk. I know I will slow down, it is just a matter of by how much. I look at my watch and see that 8:30s will bring me at close to even splits. I think to myself that the last five miles will be a cool-down jog. It seems to be working. I am running next to a lake and the winds are fierce. Another runner starts a conversation. I comply and mutter that I just wish that I was at the 26 mile marker instead of the 24th we just passed. He says that I am a "lean mean running machine." I take it in jest. He asks the spectators to cheer the lean mean running machine. I manage to feel a bit embarrassed. The fact that you can see runners (more than a mile) ahead makes it a bit tough. I plod on.

I reach this tiny little hill that almost makes me walk, and as soon as I crest it, a female with a lime green singlet passes me. I had passed her a couple of miles before. Not a good sign. She is gaining on me. I try to keep her close. I pass a struggling runners who is walking and I encourage him to at least jog. He must have done so because he shook my hand when he crossed the finish line.

I am closing in on lime-green female. Where is the darn 26 mile marker. I know I missed it once I see the 13 mile marker. Only a fraction of a mile to go. I speed up a bit but my legs are done. Finito. I cross the finish in 3:35:33, and barely a 28 second negative split. Andres would cross it in 3:42:06.

In as much as I would like to say that I could have run faster than the 3:35, it is safe to say that not this day; this day I gave it what I had. My endurance is not where it was in December. I have a lot of work to do.

I really like this marathon; it was comparable to the NYC marathon with some challenging hills and a bit too many turns. The only disappointment I had was that while I was there I did not see ONE single cow. What's up with that? :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bay2Breakers 2008

I had wanted to run this race for the last ten years. Something always seemed to get in its way though. This year was going to be different. So I signed up early, lest the race filled up quickly. Not being familiar with their registration procedures, I did not know I could have ‘applied’ for a sub-seeded number. Alas, that meant I would have to weave though the partying hordes. This was okay since I was not there to punish my body.

But when I went to the expo to collect my bib, I saw a sign pointing to the solutions desk and decided on the spot to see if I could exchange the bib for a sub-seeded one. Lo and behold, it was a lot easier than expected and I walked away with number 611.

On Sunday morning, I left my hotel by Fisherman’s Wharf at 6:40 and jogged the two miles to the start. The weather-nauts had predicted headwinds from 7 to 14 mph, ouch.

The sub-seeded area was just behind the seeded and the elite areas, with plenty of space to walk around or to get a warm-up jog. Perfect.

Now that I was to have no revelers to blame for a slow time, it was only me and the demons who have haunted me of late. One of those demons is extra weight as I am 7-8 lbs heavier from my optimal weight. But there is very little I can do at this moment in time.

Not being able to hit some training benchmarks, I came up with a rather tentative goal of 7 mpm pace. I add an extra 30 seconds, ‘just in case.’ The goal is definitely on the conservative side as a lighter me should be able to run 6:45s for this distance; but that is just that, a what if? To break 53 minutes it is… and to beat my bib number.

I line up right behind two female centipedes and all the members look fast. To my right, Spiderman-one has running shoes that match his outfit. They all would leave me behind in their dust.

I start running at what feels tempo, and promptly I feel heaviness in my chest. Is it GERD acting up for having consumed a pizza full of jalapenos for dinner two nights ago, or the curry chicken I had for lunch the previous day, or both? I definitely cannot run for over 50 minutes feeling like this, so I must have backed off subconsciously. I hone in on a stocky female who is running strong, just a few steps ahead of me. It was in this first mile that I sighted the first of several naked revelers/runners. Mile one, 6:48. Cool, I banked some seconds.

I had devised a plan of running two seven minute miles, then run as slow as eight for the third mile and come back with 6:45-6:50s for the remainder of the race.

Several spectators are jumping into the race, some with bibs, some without them, many had customs. At this point Spiderman-two passes me. I momentarily think it was the seeded spider, but this one had white running shoes. The stocky female is getting a few steps farther away from me. Up until now the course is fairly flat. Mile two, 6:53. I am still within goal range.

We are now in Hayes Street and I can see the top of the last terraced hill. The Autodesk centipede is cresting it. Damn, those guys are fast; they have already put five minutes between us. I begin the hills and while the average incline is 11+% they are a bit steeper when you consider the flat intersections. My quads start to whine and scream at me. I actually gain some on stocky female. The hills are definitely tough and I struggle in spite of my short stride. I am using my arms. Fortunately, the crowds are fantastic. Several people are drinking and it is tempting to walk over and join them for a beer. I see two females covered with rep paint. That’s all they were wearing… and running shoes. I have drilled my body into not looking down at the pavement when I am struggling. But these damn hills force my head into submission. I really have to dig deep to not walk. I am almost to the top. The problem with these terraced hills is that it seems that you’re about to crest the last one, and ‘thump’ there is another one on top of this one.. and another one. Argh! Mile three, 7:52. I know; they royally kicked my arse.

The road flattens out to my delight. A female wearing a Hawaiian dress is running by my side. I welcome her company. We do not converse. The hills have left with us with beat-up quads... and egos. The pace seems right but I am a bit disappointed as I see I have ran the fourth mile in 7:05.

We are now inside the Golden Gate Park, on Lincoln Avenue. Hawaiian woman is still running with me. I shift to a higher gear as I need to get into the 6:45s. In the process, Hawaiian woman is dropped. So is Spiderman-two. Mile five, 6:53. Finally a sub-seven minute mile; not what I wanted to see but I am okay with it.

Luckily, miles six and seven have very nice down-hills. It is here where I can get back some of the time I lost in the Hayes hills. I manage to pass a few runners. Only one would pass me. I continue gaining on others. Spiderman stays behind me as I hear spectators cheer him up. Mile six, 6:28. That’s what I am talking about.

I pass a struggling bronzed-runner and encourage him to stay with me. He has very little in the tank and does not respond. I am feeling elated. The road seems almost deserted as only a few runners are pounding the pavement. The really fast folks have already finished and only some of us mid-packers occupy the road. I am feeling stronger by the minute. Mile seven, 6:28. Funny, both six and seven ‘felt’ identical, the splits confirm it.

There is just a tad less than half a mile to go. We exit the park and have a clear view of the breakers as we turn into the Great Highway; the finish banner is so close, yet so far. I increase the tempo a bit. Spectators cheer on Spiderman-two and I can hear him panting, getting close to me. Damn. The competitive instinct in me kicks in and I increase the effort even more. I manage to hold him off and the last 0.46 miles is clocked in 2:49! (6:05 pace) Final chip time= 51:19 (6:53 pace).

As I am walking to grab a water bottle a volunteer hands me a white hat. It would not be until later that I would notice it had ‘top 500 finisher’ embroidered on the back, right below bay-to-breakers 2008. Nice.

Now, from the last 2.46 mile splits one can see I still had gas in the tank. I believe the reason for that is that it took two miles for my quads to recover from the infernal Hayes hills. All in all, B2B is an excellent race. I had a blast and cannot wait for next year and perhaps a sub-50 minute finish. And being that this was the first 12K I have ran, it was also a PR :-)

By the numbers: 290th OA, 35th AG. Nude runner sightings: twelve Males, three Females.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

HRM- Part Deux

So I have given up on using the HRM as a guide. Lemme 'splain. Two days ago while attempting to run 10 miles at a 'decent' pace (read: 7:10) the damn thing, or really the chest strap restricted my thorax from expanding fully, forcing me to slow down prematurely; so I have decided to drop the darn thing. That's my story and I am sticking with it.

Now for more important factoids. When I raced CIM I sort of promised Andres that I would run the Green Bay marathon. I did not fully commit because Bay-to-Breakers was that same day, and I have been dying to run that race, if not to get the HR up, to check up all those weirdos who run sans clothes :-) What to do with the quasi-promise you ask? I called him and told him I could run the Madison 'thon the following week if he was up to it. He said: of course! And that's how I booked my flight to MOOdison, wisCOWsin. HIS goal is to run 3:30; we'll see how he does :-)


Saturday, May 03, 2008


My running has a tendency to hit snugs from time to time. As such, it is time to look for something different that will spike up my training. A few years ago I was given a Polar 625SX and I have decided to put it to good use, sans the foot pod. I want to build up mileage and run a few quality runs here and there, trying not to burn out using the HRM as a guide.

Last Wednesday I tried 24X20 seconds with 60 second-recoveries in between and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The run ended up lasting for 12 miles. I want to do this kind of workout once every two weeks; we'll see how it goes.

As for the pain outside my left foot during the B*ston marathon, it appears that it was caused by a lose fitting shoe... stupid is as stupid does... it just goes to show you that sometimes the most basic things in life can inflict pain if not done right.

So what's in the horizon for me? The marathon du medoc for one as I already bought a non-refundable flight to Bordeaux. This race will be run for fun with no time goal, just to have fun and to drink as many different wines as possible. Can you say: Alkie? :-)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A First


I took the red eye from LA on Friday night. The lady behind me had a really awful sounding cough. I prayed I would not catch a virus.

Sunday morning I went to see the trials. It was definitely the highlight of the trip. I could not believe how exciting it was; I got to see the runners eight times and was very impressed with the gutsiness of Lewy Boulet, but knew that Kastor would eventually catch her.

The "Race":

There was something about this day I just could not shake. I just did not feel like running a marathon, much less racing one. I actually hoped to miss the buses. Ah, but it was meant for me to start it... The ride took a LOT longer than I expected; it took just under two hours. Runners were exiting the buses to release fluids et Al. We finally arrived at the athlete's village and it was already 9:30. I grabbed a water bottle and headed to the baggage buses. It was still a bit nippy on my way to the start. I am carrying three gels with me and I am wearing a skull cap, arm warmers and gloves. Just before the start I need to pee for a second time in a half-hour span. I don't feel the usual excitement that I feel before a marathon. It was kind of cool to see the fly over by F18s??? but it was still cloudy. Then the clouds broke and it felt a bit warmer than I'd like for a good marathon. I decided I would still try to hit my A goal. Foolish.

First mile passes by in a not-too-bad 7:31. I am okay with it. Several runners are leaving me behind. Mile two in 7:17. That's what I am talking about, bank some seconds for the eventual slow down in the Newton hills. Mile three in 7:28. Hmmm was hoping to see sub 7:20s. The effort feels a bit easier than MP but I am not concerned. The desire to press the pace is just NOT there. I cross the mile five marker in 37:40, and I KNOW that I cannot sustain this pace for the entire race, so I go to goal B (sub 7:41). Mile six in 7:31. Great some seconds in the bank. I know I am slowing down but when I see a 7:52 for mile seven my inner demons come out strong. A 7:42 eight mile brings me back closer to B-MP. My body is fine. My legs while a bit shaky at the start have settled down. Mile nine, 7:52. Damn. Mile 10, 7:47 (1:16:26 - 7:36 pace).

I know in the current mental state I am, I cannot fulfill goal B, so I contemplate thoughts of dropping out. Yes, this would be my first DNF. I go into easy pace mode. I start high-fiving every single kid I see to my right. The outside of my left foot is beginning to ache. Could it be the onset of PF? Not surprisingly mile 11 reads 8:14. The pace feels more like a jog. I go though the Wellesley tunnel of screams and I give high fives to as many women as possible. I am having fun. The pain in my foot disappeared for this stretch. As soon as I exit it, it comes back. Damn.

It looks like this will be the day. I will DNF. My first. Hopefully my only one.

Mile 12, 7:59. Can I run this pace for the rest of the race? The pace does not seem like a total melt down. Mile 13, 8:13. No. I call it quits soon after the half-way point (1:41:42). No need to battle my demons for another 13 miles. They won today. By a big margin. There will be another race to exorcise them; and I will, you can count on it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Beantown Prediction

It’s funny- after running 37 marathons- I can safely say that I respect the distance. What's more important, the experience I have gained allows me to set realistic goals; this is directly proportional to the quality of the training cycle. Having ran B*ston four times also gives me added edge in prognosticating a finishing time.

For the 16 weeks before the race this has been my weekly mileage, with only one longish run: 42, 45, 31, 31, 42, 37, 29, 22, 36, 30, 9, 53, 47, 47, 45*, 30* (*projected). You may remember that my original goal was to break 3:10, but that was assuming a 60 mpw training cycle. As seen from the weekly mileage it would be asinine to even dream of it. However, I think I can sneak in a sub 3:16.

What really makes this prediction interesting is a run I did on April 1; I had planned on running easy for five miles and coming back at goal MP for a total of 10. I was feeling good. There was a slight head wind I and I was getting tired too easily and at the turn around point I knew I could not run ~7:25s for five so I backed off to only three. I was able to only run two and I called it quits. I finished that run with three easy miles and felt totally demoralized. The effort was there, but the springiness in my stride was nonexistent.

Two days later, my schedule called for a tempo run. The previous week I ran eight miles with three miles sandwiched at 6:50 pace. I figured ~7mpm for four miles was doable. So I head out and immediately my legs sprung to life. I hit the 2.5 miles w/u in 19:20 (7:44 pace). Right here and then I knew the tempo would be completed satisfactorily. And I wasn’t wrong. The splits were as follow: 6:42, 6:53, 6:45 and 6:38!... The best part was the c/d where my legs really felt fresh and strong. I ran the 2.5 miles c/d in 18:31, or roughly 7:24!!!

What did I do differently? I had a deep tissue massage the previous night. I believe the massage loosen up the tight tendons, thereby allowing the working muscles to do their job.

The revised A goal, as noted above, is sub 3:16 (incidentally, I I hit this time, it will be a course PR). The B goal is sub 3:21. There. I said it. The C goal is just to finish with a smile in my face :-)

Happy running.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


of the several reasons I LOVE the Rome Marathon... having your picture taken in front of historical monuments... while running :-)

I am surprised photo5 was able to assign this photo as my bib number is not visible.

Here's where I started struggling.

I just LOVE this one taken with a fish-eye lens.